Most breakings of release dates and playing the leaked game online simply nets you a ban in most cases, which I feel is beyond unjustified to where it should be criminal. However, the developers of Dark Souls said that those who played the game before the official release date got a nice surprise when they played online.
According to the blog Esuteru, the developer and publisher of Dark Souls has their own team to take down people who play Dark Souls online, and I mean take down in a more literal sense than you would expect. Those who played Dark Souls online before September 22nd got nothing for their trouble except for extremely powerful Black Phantoms attacking them
Black Phantoms are an enemy in Dark Souls that invade other worlds, taking the stats of the player that controls them in order to cause a form of PvP, they appear as black shadows with red lighting on them. The Black Phantoms sent out to deter you from playing online are level 145, have 1900 HP, and every single one of their abilities are completely maxed out. A very effective means of deterring people from breaking the release date, but I’m certain many out there said “Challenge accepted!” and fought back and lost.
To put those levels into perspective, a reviewer for Next-Gen clocked 60 hours and is only at level 43 with abilities ranging from 8-30, and boasts 1001 HP. See Developers? Things like this are far better than “HURR DURR BAN THEM LOLZ” because it hits the news and it makes you seem more like a magnificent bastard than a complete prick who can’t handle someone getting the game a few days early. More developers should do this, because with people like me being me, I would simply say “Alright! You! Me! Fountain! We duel!”
I’m not certain if these phantasmal hitmen are real players or just bots, but either method is really cool.